Item: Telluride ski area expansion snow safety plan development and lmplementation 1993-2001
Title: Telluride ski area expansion snow safety plan development and lmplementation 1993-2001
Proceedings: Proceedings of the 2000 International Snow Science Workshop, October 1-6, Big Sky, Montana
Authors: Craig Sterbenz, Telluride Ski & Golf Company, Telluride, Colorado
Abstract: Proposed expansion of the Telluride Ski Area onto previously permitted, but undeveloped, National Forest lands required an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and subsequent Avalanche Technical Report. The initial portion of the study during 1993-1994 focused on producing an avalanche atlas and map to identify and catalog all avalanche terrain within the proposed expansion area. Secondarily, this atlas became the basis of the Avalanche Technical Report, which identified potential avalanche hazards and proposed possible mitigation options. Three to five years of continual observations were needed to fully evaluate the potential hazards and develop the basis of a snow safety plan. These observations required the installation and operation of a computerized weather station network, installation of two new avataunchers and increased staffing to conduct semi-routine control routes and record snowpack and avalanche observations. In order to effectively manage all of the data, templates were created for a relational database, which permitted cross-referencing of all weather, terrain and avalanche observations. This database provided for a 'nearest- neighbor' 'expert' forecasting system as well as for reporting of daily observations to local avalanche centers and the Westwide Avalanche Network (VVWAN). Daily evaluations of all possible mitigation options were maintained to determine the most effective control methods. A large storm cycle in 1995 yielded several very large "design" avalanches which resulted in several design changes to proposed lifts and the development of new innovative tools for more effective hazard management. Finally, the resulting snow safety plan is to be "proofed" for one entire season (2000-2001) prior to public use in order to insure adequate pUblic-safety.
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Keywords: ski area, planning, hazard mapping, hazard identification & mitigation, expert forecasting
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